Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Obituary

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Obituary

Article excerpt

William W. Rogers, professor of history at Florida State University from 1960 to 1996. died October 7, 2017, in Tallahassee, Florida. Reared near Greenville, Alabama, the son of a Disciples of Christ minister, he inherited a love of reading, which helped earn a scholarship to Auburn University. He began graduate school at the University of North Carolina, where his doctoral work was interrupted by military service (which he later described to graduate students as if it could have been an hilarious out-take from the popular movie MASH). He returned to Chapel Hill to complete his Ph.D. (1957) under the direction of Fletcher M. Green, becoming one of many Green students who took up posts teaching southern history at regional universities.

At Florida State, Rogers was a renowned teacher who won numerous undergraduate teaching awards while also writing or coauthoring twenty-seven books and eighty articles in professional and popular journals. He directed numerous master's theses and more than a dozen dissertations, lending the editing skills of a lover of good literature to the tedious prose of future historians.

His own dissertation about Alabama's late-nineteenth-century agrarian revolt was the genesis of his first and most influential book, The One-Gallused Rebellion: Agrarianism in Alabama, 1865-18% (Baton Rouge, 1970). Appearing in the vanguard of state studies of Populism, the book enjoyed a revival of interest during Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, when populism was characterized in nativist, nationalist, and racist terms. Instead, Rogers emphasized Alabama's biracial (though by no means egalitarian) and classbased assault on planters and industrialists who had imposed and perpetuated a regime of political and economic servitude. Populist commitment to a "free vote and fair count" constituted not just the rhetoric of democracy but its essence. His findings fit comfortably within C. Vann Woodward's template of class and race in Origins of the New South, 1877-1913 (Baton Rouge, 1951), though Rogers's book lacked emphasis on the darker side of Populism evident in Richard Hofstadter's critique and in Trump's presidency. Historian Theodore Saloutos described The One-Gallused Rebellion as "the most thoroughly researched study of farm politics in print for the period" (Journal of American History, 57 [March 1971], 925). …

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